Connecticut men’s basketball banned from postseason play because of academics

Ten NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams, including 2011 national champion Connecticut and Towson, will be ineligible for the postseason next year because they failed to maintain sufficient graduation rates, the NCAA announced Wednesday when it released Academic Progress Report (APR) scores for each school.

APR measures the eligibility and retention of each scholarship student-athlete over a four-year period. This year’s APR scores reflect performances from the academic years of 2007-08 through 2010-11.

The NCAA Board of Directors voted in August to require teams to post at least a 930 APR score (which correlates with a 50 percent graduation rate) to compete in the postseason, including the NCAA basketball tournaments and football bowl games.

The 930 requirement is being phased in gradually. Over the next two academic years, most NCAA programs must earn either a 900 four-year APR or a 930 over the most recent two years to qualify for the postseason. In 2014-15, the requirement becomes a 930 four-year APR or a 940 two-year APR. Starting in 2015-16, college teams must earn a 930 four-year APR.

Previously, a 925 APR score (out of 1,000) was the benchmark for possible penalties. Last season, the Maryland football team was stripped of three scholarships because of an insufficient APR score of 922. The Terrapins football program scored a 931 in the most recent APR numbers, while the basketball team scored a 970, up from 945 last year.

No local college teams were penalized this year. Last year, two Howard teams — football and women’s lacrosse — were stripped of scholarships, and six others received APR scores that fell below the 925 cutoff.

The NCAA’s overall APR is 973, up three points from last season. The APR for men’s basketball rose five points to 950, while the football APR rose two points to 948.

Fifteen NCAA teams — 10 in men’s basketball, three in football and one each in men’s soccer and wrestling — received postseason bans this season under the new APR requirements, up from eight teams last season, and 35 teams (including the 15 facing postseason bans) are facing penalties that also include loss of scholarships and a reduction in practice time.

Connecticut men’s basketball is the only team from a so-called “power” conference to receive a postseason ban.

APR penalties will further diminish next season’s Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament, as Towson and UNC Wilmington were banned from postseason play. On Tuesday, CAA presidents voted to uphold bylaws that prohibit departing schools from playing for conference championships, meaning Old Dominion (which will join Conference USA in 2013) and Georgia State (joining the Sun Belt) will not be allowed to participate.

Plus, Virginia Commonwealth will join the Atlantic 10 next month, meaning only seven teams will participate in next season’s CAA men’s basketball tournament.

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